Thursday, December 9, 2010
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
"Each with specialized roles and responsibilities, but all with one thing in common -- they volunteered. In an era when it’s never been more tempting to chase personal ambition or narrow self-interest, they chose the opposite. They felt a tug; they answered a call; they said, “I’ll go."It is in that spirit that each missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints goes out into the world to preach the gospel to each son and daughter of Heavenly Father. In a world besought with selfishness and greed, a select few young men and women choose to serve their fellow-men. It is a remarkable thing to see and to witness, that some so young are willing to sacrifice part of their lives - or all of it, in the service of their God, that they "perhaps... may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is their joy" (Alma 29:9).
In the Singapore Mission right now, there is an Elder, Elder Schone, who lies in a critical state in Penang, Malaysia, far from home, fighting for his life after being hit by a car on his bicycle. 19 years old, thousands of miles away from home and family, so that some soul, some child of God might find joy in the gospel and be happy. What motivates someone so young to do something so selfless? President Henry B. Eyring, summed it up perfectly as he described the sons of Mosiah, and pleaded for us to be just like them, saying:
I pray that you will develop the bravery and love for Heavenly Father’s children that led the sons of Mosiah to plead for the chance to face death and danger to take the gospel to a... people. Their desire and their bravery came from feeling responsible for the eternal happiness of strangers in danger of eternal misery.That's what a missionary wants, happiness for each child of God. Sure, sometimes it's easy to forget, sometimes we fail to look beyond the mark, but it's always there and always comes back, because God is leading the way.
It's been just over six months since I returned from serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The time has gone by so fast, I don't know where it's gone. There have been days that I am relieved that I am not on my mission anymore, but there days that I miss it so much that I just want to be there again, trying to teach anyone and everyone about the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have had the opportunity to spend time with my former mission companions and friends. How wonderful it is and how happy I am when I around them, because we have built such strong bonds of love and camaraderie. Even those whom I didn't get along as well with, I count my brothers because of what we went through together. I will probably never, we will probably never go through the horrors of war and be bound by a battle-hardened bond, but in our own way, we are bound by something better, that of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I've thought a lot about my mission these past few months. It's sometimes a little hard to automatically move on when you have spent two years focusing on one thing! About a month ago, I was thinking quite a bit about my mission, and felt very inadequate, because I was reflecting on each of the baptisms that I had, and how I had felt at each one of them. So many missionaries talk about the absolute happiness and euphoria that they feel at a baptismal service, because they're filled with the spirit and all that great stuff. For me though, it wasn't exactly the same. Sure, I was happy that that person was getting baptized, but I was exhausted, tired, and not terribly excited. It was something that really scared me because my thoughts were that perhaps I wasn't working hard enough or worthy to have the Spirit's confirmation. It was pretty much that way throughout my mission, and something that I thought about from time to time after my mission. It wasn't till about two months ago that I was taught by the Spirit and was able to understand why that happened.
It was one of those days, when I was thinking about my mission and missing it more than anything, when I felt this overwhelming sense of peace and love, and at that point, I knew without a doubt that I had a Heavenly Father who loved me, and who was happy with me. As I felt that, the spirit taught me a wonderful lesson, that helped me to truly understand what Heavenly Father had wanted me to learn. He taught me that day that I didn't need to feel those feelings and learn those things then because I was already doing everything that He wanted me to do. It was NOW, after all those months that gone by, that He was in a sense rewarding me, but also strengthening my testimony with the work that I had done in the past, because it was at that point that I felt joy, not just happiness or euphoria, but true joy that can only come from the gospel of Jesus Christ. I was so so happy, I was glad that I had served a mission, I was filled with a joy that peace that really, in a sense, surpassed all understand, and that I still feel from time to time, more especially at the times when I need to feel His love.
Brother Robert E. Millet, a professor of religion at BYU, recently presented a fireside to my Stake, where he spoke about the Holy Ghost, and how it perhaps is not with us always, because the "Spirit listeth to and fro." Sometimes we wonder why we don't feel the spirit though we're doing everything right. He made the point that sometimes Heavenly Father wants us to learn to make decisions by ourselves, but also to build a kind of faith that cannot waver. He said, regarding his own experiences, "in my mind, I knew that Heavenly Father loved me, but I couldn't feel it." A complete opposite of what we normally think. An intellectual confirmation from within might not even come, but, as he said, it is in "knowing that obedience is more important than emotional satisfaction" that we eventually learn that Heavenly Father is ALWAYS watching out for us. Faith will always triumph fear.
I have felt my Heavenly Father's love so much these past few months, especially during the times when I think I'm alone and have had no one to rely on. I love my Heavenly Father for all that He has given me, and for His Son, Jesus Christ, who gives me life and hope through His Atonement. I am so grateful for the opportunity to have served a mission, to have the experiences that I have had. I love the people who I was able to teach and help convert. It was in that moment of feeling God's love, and at various times after, that I have felt an overwhelming sense of love for those who I have taught, children of God who have so much to offer Him, and who are each so special to me in my life. I just chatted with the fiance of my one my recent converts. They are planning and preparing to be married in the temple, and I can't think of any greater joy than to see them make the covenants that will allow them to be a forever family, that I too hope to have one day.
I never got to post the last couple of baptisms that I had on my mission, so here they are!
Frank was baptized Saturday, May 8, two days before I finished my mission. He is active and continues to grow and learn more about who He is as a son of God.
Zong Lu was baptized the weekend after, and I am so glad that I got to attend her baptism! Zong Lu brought a friend to Church who also took the lessons and was baptized a few weeks later!
Time continues to fly by, and the common stresses and activities of life tend to distract and detract me, sometimes, away from that which matters most. But, I always end up remembering, in one way or another, that the Gospel of Jesus Christ means EVERYTHING to me, that a loving Heavenly Father and Brother have provided me with a plan that allows me to understand why I am here on this life, and what I can and must do so that I can be happy. I am grateful for the Restoration of the Gospel, that all because a boy went into the woods to pray, I too, can know for myself that God is there, and that He loves me, without a shadow of a doubt.
The full-time missionaries visited our ward a couple Sundays ago and spoke. They are so lucky! They get fed and have member help and referrals all the time! :) But, they reminded me of one thing, to do my best to serve my fellow-men, and in so doing, serve my Father and Savior.
I'll finish with some of the lyrics that inspired the title for my blog, and that will remind always of why we do this work.
How can I keep this gift to myself, When I can lift somebody else?
I'll be a witness of his miracles and his mercy.
I'll put my future in his hand, Knowing he's made me all I am.
I put my faith in him and truth begins to speak.
His power is real,it moves me until,
I will not be still.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Time goes by, as usual. This past week has gone well. Jun Xiu was baptized. It was a peaceful and spiritual baptismal service. Jun Xiu had been afraid and apprehensive the week before. But, after she was baptized, she sent us a text message thanking us and saying that she was looking forward to learning more. We've been able to see her a couple times since then, and she is doing wonderfully well.
Frank will be baptized on Saturday. It took us four nerve wrecking interviews with him, but everything is resolved. He is such a great guy, and his desire to learn more about the Church and the gospel is a great example to us. We love his sincerity.
Things continue to go on. We're working on getting more people to progress on to baptism date. We have some great new people whom we're working with. Jessica, who we tried to put on baptism date, is going back to China on Monday, and will only be back in July. But, she'll be baptized. She asked if she could get baptized after she gets back!
Thinking about and reflecting on this journey that started almost three years ago has been.... well, it's rather indescribable. I love my my mission. I have loved serving and teaching and growing. It's still hard for me to see all the change that I think and hope has taken place. But, I have learned from the many experiences I've had. It's been easy, it's been unbearable, it's been the best and the worst days in my life. But, I have learned the things which I have needed to, that the gospel is true, that my family is the most important thing to me, that happiness comes in obeying the gospel. I know that Jesus Christ lives, that he is my Savior and Redeemer. I know that the church of Jesus Christ is on this earth again today, with all the power and authority of God. I know that the Bible and the Book of Mormon are the words of God, that through the words of the prophets of old and of the present day will bring us joy, joy that can and will surpass all understanding as we strive to follow what we know to be true.
I'm a little afraid to go back to the world, but I'm also excited to see what Heavenly Father has planned for me as I start school again, and learn to be who I can and must become.
I find comfort in a wonderful talk given by Elder Jeffery R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He said,
"And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead, we remember that faith is always pointed toward the future. Faith always has to do with blessings and truths and events that will yet be efficacious in our lives."Faith is what I take with me, to know that with it, I have the power to do all that Heavenly Father has in store for me. I know that as I continue to obey His commandments and keep the covenants that I have made with Him, that all things will work out, and give me the experiences I need to allow me to return to live with my earthly and family again one day.
We gave a zone training yesterday. As I was searching for a scripture to close with, I came across this, from the Doctrine and Covenants, 123rd section, verses 11 to 17.
And also it is an imperative duty that we owe to all the rising generation, and to all the pure in heart—For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it— Therefore, that we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness, wherein we know them; and they are truly manifest from heaven— These should then be attended to with great earnestness. Let no man count them as small things; for there is much which lieth in futurity, pertaining to the saints, which depends upon these things. You know, brethren, that a very large ship is benefited very much by a very small helm in the time of a storm, by being kept workways with the wind and the waves. Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.These things are true. I am full of good cheer because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Thank you for all your love and support these past two years. I'll post more later on next week. Have a great week!
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Jun Xiu should be baptized Saturday, so that will be great. She's a little nervous, but she'll be fine. Unfortunately, Helen, who is supposed to be baptized on the same date as her, is really afraid and feels that she can't keep the covenants and commandments, so we're trying to help her to see that she will receive so much joy as she gets baptized, and that it really isn't a huge step. Really hope that she can come to understand that. She really does have a testimony. Just not a hundred percent sure as to what is holding her back.
We met with a few new investigators. Some are good, some not so good.
We did well in our area this week, but we had to work with the other missionaries in our zone who are having some issues. We had to talk to one of our district leaders who was unhappy with the way we have our areas, so we had to explain to him that it was a Stake directive. Also working with obedience issues in the Zone. Need to help the missionaries understand that obedience to the commandments and mission rules is the only way that they can find true success and happiness. As I think about the times that I have been happy as a missionary, it has always been when I worked hard and was obedient, because the Spirit is with you!
I'm still working on my charity with some of the missionaries and investigators. This quote by C.S. Lewis really got me thinking.
"When I come to my evening prayers and try to reckon up the sins of the day, nine times out of ten the most obvious one is some sin against charity; I have sulked or snapped or sneered or snubbed or stormed. And the excuse that immediately springs to my mind is that the provocation was so sudden and unexpected; I was caught off my guard, I had not time to collect myself. Now that may be an extenuating circumstance as regards those particular acts: they would obviously be worse if they had been deliberate and premeditated. On the other hand, surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth? If there are rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light."
Frank is doing well. He should be baptized the week after. Teaching English class a few times a week now, and teaching the investigators after the English lessons. We'll see how that goes. Have a great week!
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Our investigators are moving along well, and the Zone has been doing great! We actually lead the mission in baptisms last week. But, lest I sound too prideful, we definitely could not have done it by ourselves. When we have great lessons, we know that it's because of the Spirit, because that's the feeling we have when we teach in unity, when the investigator is receptive, when the member testifies. The Spirit is the key to conversion.
Elder Holland has said,
"...the Spirit must be with you and you must teach by it when you teach because that is the way the lesson ceases to be your lesson and becomes His, becomes under the power of the Spirit a vehicle for lifting your investigators out of the temporal world. We are charged with the responsibility of getting people out of their ruts and routines, out of their problems and their pain, out of their earthly little arguments and ignorance and sins, and take them to the Gods — to the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost — ultimately we are to take them toward their own Godhood. In short, we are to take them to the divine. And the Holy Ghost is the connecting link which the Godhead has agreed to give us here in mortality for that heavenly connection."These last few weeks are going to be great! Going to endure to the end! I just hope that I can do all I can to be happy, to touch the lives of Heavenly Father's children.
I was reading in Mormon this week, and the 38th verse of chapter 8 caught my attention.
O ye pollutions, ye hypocrites, ye teachers, who sell yourselves for that which will canker, why have ye polluted the holy church of God? Why are ye ashamed to take upon you the name of Christ? Why do ye not think that greater is the value of an endless happiness than that misery which never dies—because of the praise of the world?
It was a personal reminder of the attitude and life that I need to live, to be humble and Christlike, to seek for the eternal, not the things of the world.
Well, I hope you all have a great week, as we are having.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Well, Elders Stone, Mattox, Morgan and Sister Richey headed home today, so I am now the oldest (longest serving) missionary in the mission! It is unbelievable how fast time has gone by. From being a greenie, till now, I have learned so much, and am continuing to learn a lot each day.
I have had a problem with getting along with one of the Elders in my Zone, and I thought that it was all his fault. But, after another disagreement and a heart to heart talk with him, I came to understand his point of view, along with his feelings. It's something really important to learn as a leader, that listening is a lot more important than just telling.
Leo Kong is scheduled to be baptized this Saturday, which is exciting as usual. The other Mandarin Elders have three, which will be great! Along with that, Helen is progressing along well. We first met up with Helen last week. She loves Church and has already made some good friends. We have high hopes for her (better not jinx it though). I am glad that there are people are truly are ready to hear the gospel. It reminds us that there really are people out there who are searching for the truth. Sometimes, they just don't know that they are!
We got to watch General Conference this weekend, though we didn't get to watch all because I had to go to the doctors, then had to run between the English and Mandarin sessions because we wanted to watch it in English, but had to take care of our investigators in the Mandarin session. Tried to watch a session in Mandarin, but it was really hard to understand. Most of the talks flew right over my head. Shows that I have a long way to go with the language.
I especially enjoyed and was moved by the talk "The Divine Call of A Missionary" by Elder Ronald A. Rasband. He said:
Elder Eyring bore his witness to me of the love of the Savior, which He has for each missionary assigned to go out into the world and preach the restored gospel. He said that it is by the great love of the Savior that His servants know where these wonderful young men and women, senior missionaries, and senior couple missionaries are to serve. In the preface to section 14 of the Doctrine and Covenants, it states, “Three of the Whitmer sons, each having received a testimony as to the genuineness of the work, became deeply concerned over the matter of their individual duty." To John and Peter Whitmer Jr. the Lord said this: “For many times you have desired of me to know that which would be of the most worth unto you.” I suppose many of you young men have asked yourselves that same question. Here is the Lord’s answer: “And now, behold, I say unto you, that the thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me, that you may rest with them in the kingdom of my Father.It is a wonderful privilege and duty to be able to serve the Lord. My duty to God is also my duty to myself. I hope that you all have a great week!
Monday, April 5, 2010
We have a investigator, Lansi, who we were able to teach yesterday. She had canceled a few appointments with us, and we had almost given up hope, but she agreed to come to Church. We found out that she didn't really believe in God because her Dad had been killed in a car accident a couple years before, even though he was a really good person, so she was trying to reconcile the concept of a loving and caring God with that. We talked to her about the plan that the Lord has for each one of us, and though we might not fully understand His ways, He has assured us that if we obey His commandments, we can find eternal life and happiness with our loved ones one day. She still seemed a little skeptical, but very sincere in her desire to find out. She asked us why we were giving our hearts and lives to this cause, so we shared with her Alma 31:32-35, and another one of my favorite scriptures, 2 Nephi 1:15. When she asked why I believed, it was a moving experience to be able to share with her why I love to serve the Lord. She going to read and pray, so we'll see how that goes! People like her keep us going!
Leo Kong is on track to being baptized! She has a great desire and understanding of the gospel, and she should be baptized in a couple of weeks. We also have a member referral named May who we accepted on date, and we plan to put quite a few more on date this week, including May's daughters. We received a referral from Taiwan, three girls who are studying here. Things are starting to look up. I am grateful for the blessings that Heavenly Father has showered on us this past week. The lessons that we have taught have been alright, but not particularly spectacular, mostly because of our limited Chinese vocabulary. But, the Spirit has taught with us and borne testimony of what we have taught, and that has made all the difference.
From all that contacting that we have done, a couple of girls who we had met called and asked to meet up. It hardly ever happens, and was another sweet blessing that lifted our spirits.
I was reading from the Doctrine & Covenants today and came across Doctrine & Covenants 7, where the Lord is talking about John the Beloved. The Lord said, "my beloved has desired that he might do more, or a greater work yet among men than what he has before done. Yea, he has undertaken a greater work; therefore I will make him as flaming fire and a ministering angel; he shall minister for those who shall be heirs of salvation who dwell on the earth."
I hope that I can do my best these last few weeks and have that authority and power to accomplish that which the Lord has asked me to do.
Have a great week! Here's a wonderful Easter Video!
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
We had to drop a lot of our investigators, and almost EVERY appointment that we set up canceled. People weren't answering our calls and members couldn't. So, we spent most of the week contacting. Normally, contacting goes alright and people stop to listen. But, over the course of last week, no one would listen! No one wanted to stop, no one wanted to sit by us, no one even flashed a smile. It got worse when people started getting rude. One man whom I sat by said that he couldn't talk because he was waiting for a friend. Another two girls waved their hands in my face. Another guy gave me a dirty look, and tons of people just completely ignored me and Elder Rothwell. It got to a stage on Friday night When I was utterly discouraged. I had probably gone through twenty rejections, and it was hurting me. I thought, "Why won't people just stop and listen to me?" As I thought about that and wallowed in self pity, I thought about the theme of my blog, you know, the song, I Will Not Be Still. As I reflected on the words, it gave me a sense of peace and calm, to know that I am called of the Lord, and that though I can't do it by myself, He's there every step of the way. The first couple verses go like this,
I've never been the kind to testify,
I don't have the words his truth deserves.
But it's a simple thing he asks,
A worthy heart and willing hands.
He says if I'll make the choice,
He'll help me find my voice.
He calls me to serve and I cannot fail him,
The one who has given me all that I have.
I place my trust in him alone,
He knows the yearnings of my soul.
Because he believes in me,
I will go willingly.
It was then that I knew that my Heavenly Father loved me, yet another witness that I was doing his work.
I continued to sing the song softly, till it got to these lines,
Reaching the hopeless hearts who do not know his love,
Seeing their lives begin to change,
I know I'll never be the same.
For a moment, that caught me off guard, and got me back in my little rut. I reasoned with myself that none of these people wanted to change, they did not want to know His love. It was something that I thought the rest of the week.
We had some visa runners from Indonesia come in because there was a mess up with their visas in the States. But, they stayed for the week and got it all worked out. One of those visa runners, Sister Okamoto, wrote in my BR as she left, which I read later on. She said that the work that we do is the most important work, and that The Book of Mormon is true and changes lives! That hit me, along with the song, that there are lives to be changed. Many people might and will reject the message that we have to share, but we have to work our hardest to spread this message because of what the Savior has done for us and the world!
I'll admit,one of my faults this week has been that of being a little too trunky, which I can't be! I had two little boosts to keep me on the straight and narrow. One of them was from my friends who reminded me that I shouldn't be counting the days, but letting the days count! The second was from Sister Okamoto, who paraphrased a scripture saying that "TRUNKINESS NEVER WAS HAPPINESS!" Tis true.
Elder Rothwell and I did our weekly planning and resolved to do all we could to make sure that we can get as many people as we could to hear about this gospel, and these past couple of days have been great. Things are going better, people are listening more, we've had a couple good appointments. But, w still have the rest of the week, so we'll be working hard!
I love the mission. There have been days that I have wondered what I am doing doing this, but then always, and mostly realizing and knowing that this is how we, and everyone can find the happiness that our loving Father in Heaven wants for each of His children.
I hope that you all have a great week. Please keep Elder Rothwell and I in your prayers, we need it.
A photo for ya'll, The Elders in the Singapore (2nd) Mandarin Ward
Elders Raja, Rothwell, Chua and Teng
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Elder Rothwell and I gave our Zone Training yesterday, which was great fun to prepare and also to give. We focused on President Clark's training for the Zone Leaders, where we talked about being substitute teachers. We focused on:
1. Teaching by the Spirit
3. Personal Worthiness
5. Focusing on the Investigator
We learned a lot as we prepared for the lesson by drawing from scriptures and Preach My Gospel, knowing what we can and should do to be better missionaries, and how to motivate our Zone to be the best that they can be. It really is in the teaching that you really learn. As we gave the training, there were all these thoughts coming into my head to talk about! It was a great experience!
We're still working on getting new investigators. We have a few that we thought would progress fast, but they are going a little slower than we thought. Bit by bit though. We're slowly getting our number of investigators at Church back up. It's a struggle, but it's the challenge that we are going to overcome!
The Stake put up a musical. Did a great job, though it was very Mormon cheesy, but that's why it was good! We brought two investigators that commented, while the prelude music was playing, that they didn't like that kind of music but preferred Lady Gaga. Somehow, one sat through all of it, and the other, most of it. I love the feelings that come from the Spirit. It is unlike any other, and it's hard to get investigators to understand sometimes that it is such an individual feeling.
Time goes so fast! We have to rush off again! The work continues to go on, and my Mandarin is slowly improving. I hope that everyone is doing well. Do let me know how you are all doing!
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
She had never been swimming before, and she was rather afraid of the water, so it took her a few times to go all the way under. She bore a wonderful testimony after that. It's going to be great to be able to hang out with her in Utah! We met with her yesterday and had a great after baptism lesson with her.
This past week didn't go so well, we dropped a lot of investigators (or were dropped by them). But, the start of this week has been great. Elder Rothwell and I have been working hard and well together, and we should get people back on track to baptism in the next few weeks. We have a bunch of new investigators, so we'll see how they do. We met with a new girl named Jun Xiu. She's a student here. Asked great questions during her lesson. She'll progress.
Just continuing to learn and grow each week. Preach My Gospel is amazing. Read it!
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Doing well with Elder Rothwell, my new companion! Elder Sederholm has been transferred out to be the new Assistant! Reported with him on Monday. It was a little weird! But, we're still in the same house! That means we still get to play Settlers of Catan at night. Finally won my first game this morning! Anyhow, Elder Rothwell is from Rexburg, ID. He's been out for about sixteen months now. Great guy.
Li Tong is on date to get baptized this Saturday, we just have to have her interview done, then all should be well!
A few investigators....
1. Mrs. Woo - May's mom. May is a recent convert. She said that she wasn't sure how interested her Mom would be, but she had us over anyway. When I first started talking to her Mom, she said that she didn't want to discuss religion, so I started a conversation with her (was in splits with Elder Sugiyanto, and he doesn't speak Mandarin). She was eating and was trying to fan herself at the same time because it was hot, so I took the fan from her and fanned her as I talked to her. Slowly, the conversation turned towards God and her view of that, and ended being a great discussion. She said that the reason why she didn't follow any religion was because she has seen so many people who claim to be religious, but who are still very "bad people." Talked about not worrying about what other people do, but just about what she does. Talked about coming to know that she has a Father in Heaven who loves her. She agreed to read a chapter in The Book of Mormon at the end! It was another little blessing from Heavenly Father because I didn't mess up while speaking to her!
2. Eva - She's slowly progressing. She said that she'll be baptized if she has her visa to England approved, and she won't if she doesn't get the visa. Got me really frustrated, and told her that it doesn't work that way. Trying to help her get her priorities straight and understand what it means when you covenant with the Lord to be baptized.
3. An Xiang and Jian Long - An Xiang called and said she wanted to meet. I had no idea who she was. Finally met with her after a couple of weeks. Found out that she worked in the same place as a girl who we had contacted while buying some food, and that girl had given her a card. She's really busy with work, but we'll see how it goes. No effort is wasted!
I've been studying about baptism this week, and focused particularly on Doctrine & Covenants 20:37, which focuses on the qualifications needed for baptism. I was thinking especially of Eva, and the changes that need to happen for someone to be able to really make covenants with Heavenly Father. It reads:
And again, by way of commandment to the church concerning the manner of baptism—All those who humble themselves before God, and desire to be baptized, and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and witness before the church that they have truly repented of all their sins, and are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end, and truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins, shall be received by baptism into his church.
Humility, desire, broken hearts, contrite spirits, truly repented, willing to take upon ourselves the name of Christ, determination to serve to the end, by works, these things are what are needed, and I am coming to really understand what needs to be seen and reflected in a person, the true conversion that takes place. I really hope Eva cones to understand that. It is such a sacred thing, to make promises to God. It's nothing simple or casual. With that understanding has come more meaning to the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the Sacrament.
I want to be willing to do all that the Lord wants me to do. I did the Christlike attributes activity in Preach My Gospel this morning, and one of the questions was whether or not you have enough faith to do all that the Lord wants you to do. Try it!
Well, almost time to go! Have a great week! Hope to hear from ya'll!
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Anyhow, we had Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve visit us! We had a great mission tour with him, then had a wonderful member meeting too. Elder Perkins of the Seventy was also there. We had a small missionary meeting with him and his wife for a few hours. President and Sister Clark spoke, along with Sister Perkins, then Elder Perkins gave us a wonderful training. Hr talked to us about our purpose, our purpose to save souls. In Doctrine & Covenants 138: 56, it reads: Even before they were born, they, with many others, received their first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared to come forth in the due time of the Lord to labor in his vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men.
It refers to all of us who do the work that Heavenly Father wants us to do. We are here to labor in His vineyard. I have so little time left. Laboring as hard as I can.
Elder Nelson had a question and answer session, so I asked him how we could help people who knew about the Church and liked it, but who didn't want to really change because they were comfortable with life. He spoke of patience and of love, on how we help people along, but the best that we should do is to be an example. He talked about how his Dad was only baptized when he was 80. But, he said that miracles will happen as we set the right example. I'm keeping that in mind.
Isabel will be baptized on Friday.
Li Tong is doing amazing! We saw her again last night. We brought another member, Brother Shieh, who did amazing with her. We taught her the ten commandments, which she readily agreed to, because, as she said, "I follow them all already anyway." She really opened up this time, and talked about how when she first got married, she had no inkling that she would join the Church, because she had no belief in Jesus Christ or anything like that. But, he sister-in-law set a great example of service even though she's older. She also said that as she saw the example of the missionaries, she was moved by that, giving time to serve the Lord and suffering (meaning that we had to travel out to visit her and not eat dinner sometimes). It was a sweet experience and humbling. She is so prepared!
I love serving the Lord and preaching the gospel. People like her are the reason why we serve.
Well, take care and have a great week!
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Our next baptism is set for March 6th. Isabel is a great investigator who has overcome some setbacks, and is well on her way o being baptized.
As Zone Leaders, we have to go on exchanges with the District Leaders. Elder Sederholm went out into the other missionaries' areas both times, so I was left to keep our area going. It was rather nerve wrecking, because we had multiple appointments, and I had to teach in Chinese without my companion's help. Thankfully, we had members to help us, except for one appointment that really tested my ability and stretched me out!
Li Tong is doing great. She accepted a baptism date for March 13th. It was a wonderful couple of lessons that we had with her, because she is set on it! Teaching her alone with a member was hard at first, but she was really patient and understood what I was saying. It was great to be able to find the words to teach her about the Plan of Salvation. We had originally decided not to set a baptism date till she had spoken to her husband. But, as we got to the end of the lesson, I had an overpowering feeling to ask her about it. I should have been more bold, but we asked her what she thought about it, and she said that she had actually talked to her husband about it, and wanted to be baptized. Later on, we received an email from her husband saying that she was really strong-willed, and he wanted her to make the decision for herself, which she did. She feels so comfortable in Church and talks about the peace that she feels when she comes to Church. Joy! When we brought baptism up again during her next lesson, she stated it like it was a fact that she was going to be baptized! When we taught her about the Word of Wisdom, she felt bad that she had been drinking coffee! The best part is that she'll be back to Ephraim, UT in a few months, and we can visit with her.
Jenny is Isabel's Mom. When we taught her yesterday, it was once again without my companion. She had been taught before by the other Elders but she forgot it all. I was really struggling with my Chinese because it was a lesson that I hadn't really taught before. When we asked her about baptism, she said she wasn't ready because she didn't know enough. Took awhile to formulate the words in my mind, but I eventually was able to bear my testimony and teach her about the true joy that she could have in the Church of Jesus Christ, with the authority from God. She had some great questions which were answered, with the help of a couple of members. One in particular helped really well. Jenny told us that she had stopped going to her Church and would now only come to ours when she was free because of the peaceful an calm feeling that she felt at Church. It was something to think about, two people talking about the peace that they feel in Church. The Spirit is a marvelous thing. The peace that the Savior promised is tangible.
As usual, time goes by fast. Have a great week!
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
I had my first full week as a Mandarin Elder. While I have seen my inadequacies in Mandarin, I have studied hard and learned a lot in the past week already. This week has been pretty slow because it's Chinese New Year, and a lot of our investigators returned to China for the holiday. However, we still managed to pull of a decent week.
These past couple of days have been especially trying on me, because we've spent most of the day just contacting, instead of having appointments like we usually do. Monday was pretty hard, because there were not too many people out, and people weren't listening to us. More of the problem though, was the fact that I was actually afraid to talk to people! I talked to a few people but... I've never really had a huge problem with it, but I was having a really hard time, and I was letting people walk by. In one instance, I said hi to a group of three people who were walking past who paused and smiled, but I didn't say anything else, so they walked away, and I didn't go after them. It was a defining moment for me, because I realized that I was not motivated, I was not doing what I was supposed to be doing. Honestly, I'm not describing it too well, I guess I was consumed more by fear then by faith, I was more concerned with what people thought of me, instead of what the Lord knew I could do.
Yesterday though, something changed. We went out again in the evening, and I was starting off a little slow. Elder Raja and Elder Teng, the other Mandarin Elders, gave me a boost and shoved me towards people, which got me started, and I started talking to people. I didn't really care! It was hard work, but it was so fulfilling, because each time I opened my mouth, I remembered my purpose and the things that I know to be true as I shared with them and bore my testimony about a loving Heavenly Father, and about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I talked to more non-Christians, which proved to be a great experience. Towards the end of the night, I sat down next to a couple of guys who were staring at me and started a conversation with them. They were relatively friendly. But, when I told them that I was a missionary for my Church, they told me that they weren't interested because they didn't believe in God, so it was ok that I didn't talk to them. I persisted a little by talking to them about how we have a Heavenly Father who loves us and who really wants us to be happy. As I talked about it and expounded on it, I had a wonderful feeling come to me, a knowledge that it was true, and I really cared for those two guys! They started to soften up, and it got to the point where I pulled out a copy of The Book of Mormon and started teaching about it! At the end of the lesson, they accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon and said that they would pray about it. They were visibly moved , which surprised me. One of the little miracles that happened was that I didn't stumble while I was speaking! Those Chinese words just flew out of my mouth!
It was a great day! Ended up with five new investigators, one being a group of three who I stumbled though with in Chinese, so I was amazed that I got through that night so well. As we wandered home, I was exhausted, but I was SO HAPPY! When you are in the service of God, it is a wonderful feeling.
We had a training by the Assistants this morning that is going mission-wide. They talked, with President Clark initiating it, about how we need to focus. We've done spectacular the past three months, but people are getting complacent, and thinking more about home and things of the world. It was a great training, and a great reminder of my purpose, especially during these next few months as a missionary. Elder Troxel made a great comment when he said that "the only thing between you and success is you."
The only thing that really matters is being able to help others find happiness, and, in the process, you find what true happiness is also. To be able to live with friends and family forever.... I'm working hard!
I am grateful to be able to serve and to teach Heavenly Father's children. As always, thank you for your support and love.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
It's pretty surreal, being out of the office. We went in yesterday to report with the Assistants, and it was weird being just a visitor. When I first got into the field, working in the mission office seemed like such an alien experience, working with the mission president and what not. Now, thirteen months have gone by in the office. Where has that time gone? I very much appreciated the time that I had there, the lessons that I learned and the experiences gained. It is something that will definitely help me through the rest of my life.
On one of my last days in the office, President Clark pulled Elder Sederholm and I into the office to talk about the Zone. He meandered off a little, and started talking about how the things we learn and do in the mission are things that we should NEVER give up. He talked about the planning that we do, the scheduling, the teaching, finding people to teach, being an example, continuing to have a clean cut appearance, to be well spoken, to be a missionary in every way for the rest of our lives. It makes perfect sense, at least to me. What a treat a mission is!
During personal study this morning, I came across Matthew 9:36-38, which reads,
But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.
It was good to think about, about how the labourers are few. There used to be over 60,000 missionaries around the world, and now we're down to 52,000 because the bar was raised. How much there is to do, and the responsibility we carry, but also the joy that comes from that.
Well, have to run off. Have a great week!
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Well, we’ve had yet another crazy week. Things are going well, but they are definitely interesting at the same time. We lost the 1st Ward in an effort to ensure that there are missionaries in each ward every Sunday, so we are down to Ang Mo Kio and Bedok, which we are doing our best to build up.
On Thursday, we met up with a new investigator named James. He lives in welfare flats, and I’ve only been to them one other time before with Elder Palfreyman. It was at night this time, so it was definitely a different experience. The member who came with us had a fright when it looked like his car was about to be towed away. We had a good lesson with him, and also had a good lesson with a friend he introduced. He definitely has some radical ideas, but we continue on in helping all to learn about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.
Friday was really busy! We had four appointments after our day in the office in different locations, so we had to rush around. Our first appointment was with a kid who I had contacted on the bus. He wouldn’t give me his number, but called later that day to ask if we could meet up. Well, the lesson started off well enough, but it quickly went into him just talking to us, and telling us that he was a messenger from God. We talked about needing the authority to teach and to perform ordinances, at which point he asked if we could give it to him. We had to explain why we couldn’t, where he then continued to push his own agenda. Now don’t get me wrong. Sometimes people would probably think that of us too. Anyhow, we gave him a copy of The Book of Mormon. Later that night, he sent us a number of texts telling us that he was called of God and that we were going to hell. The only problem was that while he told us that the Bible was the only word from God, he himself admitted during our lesson, well, boldly declared that he did not read the Bible.
Had a lesson after that with Cheryl, another person who I contacted, but was very much willing to learn. She has been studying with a Jehovah’s Witness teacher for the past three years, so she feels close to her. We talked about the restoration and let her know that she could find out for herself what was true, that she didn’t need to listen to us or to her teacher, but rather to the Lord. Our appointments were stuck too close together, so Elder Rajah-Kanagasabai and Elder Klemm had to leave first, while Elder Stone sat in. Elder Klemm and Elder Rajah K. set a baptism date with one of the men they met that night!
I went on exchanges with President Clark Friday evening to teach a new investigator. It turned out being a very powerfully spiritual lesson. Leonard, the young man I contacted, brought a friend along. Leonard isn’t Christian, but his friend, Wei Chin is. We started to talk about God being our loving Heavenly Father, but Leonard immediately expressed his belief of being semi-Atheist, so we talked to him about it all. He felt that religion restricted your freedom and ability to choose and have fun. Wei Chin was pretty frustrated with that, and was actually a good help. Leonard did have a desire to learn, but as a teenager, had his own views. It was fun to be able to go back and forth with President talking about God, strengthening my own testimony. President continued talking to Leonard, and I started up a conversation with Wei Chin because he seemed to have a good understanding of the gospel. Taught him the lesson covering the restoration. He started off with the concern of not needing to go to any particular Church, but as I explained our view to him, he came to understand it. And, as he learned about a living Prophet and Apostles today, he got way excited! We asked him to pray at the end of the lesson, and his prayer included this phrase, “Thank you for sending us living prophets and apostles today to lead us out of darkness.” It was great! Leonard pulled President aside later and thanked him for talking to him, really seeing President as a father figure.
Still working with Wilson. Brandon is struggling with some family issues, but he finally met with us, and we got to talk to him a little more about the relationship with his parents, meanwhile reminding me how much I love my parents!
Gave another talk on Sunday in Bedok Ward. I hope that it inspires you! Have a great week! Oh! Thirteen months in the office four days ago!
And Who Is My Neighbor? By Elder Ee Chien Chua
My companion in the MTC, Elder Shwe, was from Burma. He was a recent convert and had only been a member of the Church for a little more than a year. He had a limited command of the English language and not so great of an understanding of the gospel either. He was nice enough, and we started off well. But, as the days went on and we started to teach together, it was frustrating for me, because we weren’t able to teach well, and it got annoying that I had to explain things over and over again. The teachers noticed my frustration, prompting one of them to pull me aside, and had me read the section on Charity and Love in Chapter Six of Preach My Gospel. I read it, but it didn’t really sink in. We continued to have challenges in our companionship. About two weeks into training, the MTC President, President Smith announced the speakers for sacrament meeting that Sunday. Among them was my companion, which surprised me, since he still had really bad English. After that meeting, President Smith pulled me aside and told me specifically that he wanted me to help my companion prepare his talk. He told me that he knew that I could have given the talk a lot easier, but it was something that my companion needed to learn. On Saturday evening, Elder Shwe worked on his talk, and I helped him out a little. We didn’t make too much progress before we turned in for the night. He said that he was going to wake up early to finish it up, to which I told him that I would get up too to help him. He told me I didn’t need to, and I don’t think either of us expected me to get up early that next morning. Somehow, I got up that next morning, and starting dictating to him his talk. As I did so, and as he attentively listened and wrote down what I was saying, I realized how much my companion loved me. He had never once showed his frustration at the way I had been treating him. I had been short tempered and had shown my displeasure many times, but all he had ever said was “sorry,” and always told me that he loved me. I had looked down on him, thinking I was better. His response had been Christ like in every way, and he was definitely the more “educated” of us two, because he had learned what was most important. We had a great end to our companionship as I showed him the love that he deserved. Charity was a lesson I learned well from one who I least expected to be taught by.
In the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, the author of the topic sums up charity well by stating that: As the love of Christ, charity is characterized as selfless and self-sacrificing (1 Cor. 13:5), emanating from a pure heart, a good conscience, and faith unfeigned (1 Tim. 1:5). Thus, more than an act, charity is an attitude, a state of heart and mind (1 Cor. 13:4-7) that accompanies one's works and is proffered unconditionally (D&C 121:45). It follows, but surpasses in importance, faith and hope (1 Cor. 13:13).
This may have been what Jesus was trying to teach Peter in John 21:15-17,wherein he asks Peter three times if he "loves" him, and, to Peter's affirmative answers, responds, "Feed my sheep" and "Feed my lambs," teaching that the true love of Christ always goes out to others. Loving all of God's children and being willing to sacrifice for them are the depth and breadth of the pure love of Christ. This "bond of perfectness and peace" (D&C 88:125; Col. 3:14) becomes the foundation of all human relationships (cf. 1 Cor. 13). The everlasting love of charity is intended to be an integral part of one's nature: one is to cleave unto it (Moro. 7:46) and be clothed in it (D&C 88:125). In fact, all things are to be done in charity. Charity is everlasting; it covers sins (1 Pet. 4:8), it casts out all fears (Moro. 8:17), and it is a prerequisite for entering the kingdom of Heaven (Ether 12:34; Moro. 10:21).
Charity is an attitude. But, in order for us to have that attitude, in order for us to be able to have that charity within us, we first need to learn what charity really is, we need to learn how charity relates to our personal relationship with the Savior before we can extend it to our fellow men. With that, we remember the Savior’s and command to love our fellow men. In the 10th chapter of Luke, we read of the Parable of the Good Samaritan. The preface, however, gives us great insight into the concept of loving our neighbor, of having charity and love for all men.
As the Lord taught his gospel in the temple, there was a certain lawyer “who stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?(Luke 10:25)” This particular lawyer was trying to trap the Savior into saying something that he could condemn him for. The Savior’s response was a question in itself, replying, “What is written in the law? how readest thou?(Luke 10:26)” The lawyer, well-versed and read in the scriptures answered, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself(Luke 10:27).” The Savior’s next response was a wonderful lesson, and, with these next few words, taught the lawyer, and us, that words without action mean nothing. Empty vessels really do make the most noise. He said, “Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live(Luke 10:28).” We do live when we obey the great commandment in the law, along with the second. Charity and love are attributes that truly become a part of us, charity is an attitude that is both felt and seen. Some would have been satisfied with that answer, but, to paraphrase Elder James E. Talmage, the lawyer in question must have felt that he had taken a hit to his ego because of his inability to deceive the Master. So, he asked “And who is my neighbor? (Luke 10:29)” With that question as his base, the Savior taught us a wonderful sermon.
And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise (Luke 10:30-37).
The Samaritan understood what charity was. We know through history the bad blood that existed between the Jews and the Samaritans. It was purely out of his love for his brother that the Samaritan was able to accomplish this task. No doubt it was a hard thing to do, because he had the chance of facing ridicule or abuse for helping an enemy. But, it was his understanding of love and charity that allowed him to do this. The Samaritan showed though action the values that he lived his life by, perhaps an ancient day example of what us modern Christians are supposed to be like. The advantage we have though, is our know ledge of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. That will be talked about more later. Perhaps the other point that I want to focus on before I close up is the understanding too that the Samaritan had about forgiveness. He held neither grudge nor hatred for the Jew he was helping, but forgave his brother and his race for whatever suffering he might have experienced at their hands. It is on that note that I want to touch a little on the subject of forgiveness.
In Preach My Gospel, the section discussing Charity and Love states: You will avoid negative feelings such as anger, envy, lust, or covetousness. You will avoid judging others, criticizing them, or saying negative things about them. You will try to understand them and their points of view.
Charity does indeed teach us that forgiveness is not an option. C.S. Lewis said,
To excuse, what can really produce good excuses is not Christian charity; it is only fairness. To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you. This is hard. It is perhaps not so hard to forgive a single great injury. But to forgive the incessant provocations of daily life - to keep on forgiving the bossy mother-in-law, the bullying husband, the nagging wife, the selfish daughter, the deceitful son - How can we do it? Only, I think, by remembering where we stand, by meaning our words when we say in our prayers each night "Forgive our trespasses* as we forgive those that trespass against us." We are offered forgiveness on no other terms. To refuse it is to refuse God's mercy for ourselves. There is no hint of exceptions and God means what He says.
As we come to understand this and apply it in our lives, then we will get to a stage in our lives where we will be able to treat each person with respect and kindness, and look past their faults, because of the faults within us too. Of course, it is easier said than done. My personal struggle with it is part of the reason for the topic of my talk today. But, as I so my best to apply the principles I am studying, then I come to see the majestic and all-compassing power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We know of this single most important act that the Savior performed on this Earth. Out of His pure love for each of us, the Savior of the world suffered and died that we, and all might live again.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland stated,
Let people repent. Let people grow. Believe that people can change and improve. Is that faith? Yes! Is that hope? Yes! Is it charity? Yes! Above all, it is charity, the pure love of Christ. If something is buried in the past, leave it buried. When something is over and done with, when it has been repented of as fully as it can be repented of, when life has moved on as it should and a lot of other wonderfully good things have happened since then, it is not right to go back and open up some ancient wound that the Son of God Himself died trying to heal.
Let us remember the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Bishop talked about the sacredness of the sacrament last Sunday, which was wonderful, because we truly are remembering the Savior by partaking of the physical emblems of His suffering. If we can come to Church each Sunday, and remember what we really are supposed to remember, then we will leave stronger, having allowed the Savior to personally touch us with His sacrifice, and be who he wants us to be. The Atonement will be our guide through life, to know what we should do, say and be. As we remember that every person around us is our neighbor, and apply the teachings of the Savior to that, then perhaps we will be able to obey the great commandments in the law, and feel our Savior’s love and approval for that.